Cooking with fresh autumn produce adds an extra dash of pleasure to your everyday nourishment. These recipes deliver nutrients, to be sure, but their preparation, colors, textures and flavors add up to even more healthful benefits.

What’s really in your cup?

Eggnog is a delicious, festive treat, but store-bought versions often contain tremendous amounts of sweeteners, cream and other additives. Here’s the best and the worst of the bunch — just in time for you to get your holiday cheer on.

The best: Pumpkin-spiced ciders

While it’s not your traditional cup of cheer, adding pumpkin puree to apple cider not only gives this beverage a festive twist, it also adds a thicker consistency — meaning a slower slurp and satisfaction with less. However, these beverages still contain added sweeteners, in the form of syrups and juice concentrates, giving you more than 100 calories per glass.

Bottom line: Calorie for calorie, this beverage may be more waist-friendly compared to your traditional egg nog; however, it’s still wise to stick to the serving size and enjoy on occasion.

Soy-based nog

Rather than the traditional dairy-based milk and cream, a soy-based egg nog will give you next to zero saturated fat. However, many varieties dish up a good helping of sugar (roughly 3 teaspoons per serving), along with the addition of carrageenan — a plant-based compound extracted from red seaweed, mainly added to improve the texture and mouth feel of foods. While questions have arisen regarding carrageenan’s safety for the human digestive tract, there’s no data to date that shows it poses adverse health effects.

Bottom line: Just a soy-based drink with added sugar, thickeners and a few spices for a twist on flavor.

Coconut-based nog

Made with coconut milk and cream, these dairy-free varieties can be high in saturated fat, dishing up a whopping 2 grams in just half a cup. But whether you stick with the recommended serving size or not, you’ll easily slurp down half your daily intake of heart-clogging fats.

Bottom line: While the jury is still out on whether the type of saturated fat found in coconut milk behaves differently from the saturated fat found in animal food sources, these drinks are still best enjoyed in moderation.

Traditional egg nog

From the heavy cream to the sugar and eggs, egg nog can quickly become a real calorie bomb, with some brands containing roughly 5 teaspoons or more of added sugar per serving (half a glass) and 10 grams of fat, along with a host of natural and artificial additives and flavorings.

Bottom line: Give your festive egg nog a healthy makeover and take control of the amount of sugar, fat and flavorings you add (see recipe below).

holiday1Egg Nog Makeover
Serves 2

2 cups almond milk
4 egg whites
⅓ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon all spice
½ teaspoon cinnamon


  • Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until well-combined.
  • Pour mixture into a pot and warm over low heat on the stove for 12-15 minutes to cook the egg, whisking occasionally to avoid simmering and boiling.
  • Remove from heat, pour into a serving jug, place in fridge and allow to chill and thicken overnight.
  • Before serving, whisk the mixture. You can add alcohol (optional) at this stage. You may need to add more milk if mixture is too thick.
  • Serve cold or warm and garnish with extra cinnamon.